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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 3/4/2016

Guests: Rochelle Riley

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: March 4, 2016 Guest: Rochelle Riley

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: That is "ALL IN" for this evening.


Good evening, Rachel.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks, my friend. Have a good weekend.

HAYES: You too.

MADDOW: Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour as well.

This is Prairie View A&M University. It`s a historically black college, just outside Houston, Texas. Prairie View was founded in 1876. It`s been around for a very, very long time, one of the oldest schools in Texas.

It`s also pretty big school. It`s got about 8,000 students. Like most universities and colleges of that size, Prairie View A&M has its own police department.

And the chief of the police department at Prairie View A&M is this person. Her name is Zena Stephens. She`s the police chief at that university. She lives in Jefferson County, Texas, which is east of the school, east of Houston, actually closer to Louisiana.

And Jefferson County, Texas, is having an election for sheriff this year. Zena Stephens is one of two Democratic candidates who made it into a run offer this week for that sheriff`s position in Jefferson County, Texas.

If either one of those Democratic candidates is elected, they will become the first black sheriff in the history of Jefferson County, Texas.

But this week, at Zena Stephen`s campaign headquarters this Beaumont, Texas, just this week, before she made into the runoff Monday night, Zena Stephens` campaign office was the target of what appears to be a racially motivated shooting. Candidate Zena Stephens on Monday night, she was at her campaign office with about two dozen other people, campaign staffers, campaign volunteers, members of her own family.

And while they were, that evening, Monday night, a white man drove up in this white Jeep Cherokee. The man leaned out the passenger side window of his vehicle, he screamed the n-word, screamed some racial slurs and he started shooting. And luckily, even though five or six people were standing in front of the campaign office when this guy started shooting there, including the candidate herself, she was just outside the office in the front of the office where the shooting happened when this guy drove up -- another 20 people inside the building.

Luckily, nobody was injured. The guy did shatter the glass front of the building.


ZENA STEPHENS, JEFFERSON CO., TX SHERIFF CANDIDATE: We heard shots fired, and glass -- shattering of the glass, and, you know, people -- scared people, people scrambling for safety. I don`t know whether the individual that did that was trying to divide the community or stop the election or stop, you know, me for running.

None of that`s going to happen. I`m still a part of this community. I love this community. You know, it`s just senseless ignorance.


MADDOW: A few hours after the shooting, Beaumont, Texas police say they arrested this man who they say confessed to the shooting. They recovered two weapons from his Jeep Cherokee. One was a BB gun and the other was a rifle. The suspect is in custody.

So, that was Monday night in Beaumont, Texas, right near the border with Louisiana, where the presidential primary is due to take place with both parties tomorrow.

Now, clear across the country this California, here is another one from this week`s news to keep you up at night in case that wasn`t enough.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We had three male whites, white supremacists and two Hispanic males, young, and a Hispanic female and they start harassing the Hispanics and eventually start assaulting them, beating them up. And there`s another family that saw that. They went in to intervene and when they intervened, they started fighting with them, they pull knives out and attempted to cut two of the victims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were screaming racial slurs. Heil hail Hitler, AV skins and numerous racial slurs towards the Hispanics. They were calling them spics and beaners, just everything. And one had a confederate flag wallet. They kept doing the Heil Hitler salute.

Eventually, they did run and our deputies caught them and detained them. They`re going to be arrested for assault with a deadly weapon as well as hate crimes.


MADDOW: So, that happened this week this Antelope Valley, California, which is basically northern L.A. County in Southern California. When the police officer there said that one of things the white supremacists guys was screaming during the attack was AV skins. I think what that stands for is Antelope Valley skinheads, racist skinhead group.

All three of the alleged white supremacist attackers in that case, this unprovoked racist attack on Hispanics in a park, all three attackers in this case are still in custody. And that kind of random, unprovoked racist neo Nazi attack is obviously unsettling at any time.

It`s particular unsettling in Southern California right now on the heels of last week`s attempted uniformed KKK march through Anaheim, California. Anaheim, California is about 100 miles away from Antelope Valley.

That Klan march last week got a lot of attention not just because it`s the freaking Klan, but also because the Klansman ended up getting beat down in the street by a bunch of counter-protester in a way that was captured on video in very dramatic footage. Three people were also stabbed in that Ku Klux Klan melee last week in Anaheim.

So, we`re wired in this day and age to think of things like the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups. We`re sort of wired to think of them as some other age, right? Part of some other slice of American culture other than our own.

But this kind of stuff persists and there are new manifestations of it all time. And racist attacks, shows of force like this, they do happen in our country all over our country. And when they happen, maybe it`s unrelated to anything going on and in our own politics. Maybe these things happen in a vacuum. They follow their own tune.

But given what`s going on right now in our national politics, it is hard to look at incidents like this happening now and feel like they are happening in a vacuum. Right? One storm does not a weather pattern make. But that doesn`t mean you can`t tell what season it is more broadly.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we`re tough with them, we get criticized. We had one guy in New Hampshire, actually, who was a rough guy. And he was swinging and swinging and punching. He was really going down for the count. And we had a couple of people in audience who were equally rough and they took him out.

They took him out. They took him out. No, they took him out.

I`ll tell you what, it was -- it was really amazing to watch. This was a seriously tough cookie. He looked like an NFL football player.

We had four guys. They jumped at him, they were swinging and swinging. The next day we got killed in the press that we were too rough.

Give me a break. You know? Right?

We don`t want to be too politically correct anymore, right, folks? No. No, it`s very unfair. You know, they`re allowed to swing and punch the hell out of people, but if we get a little bit rough and taking them out, oh, we`re terrible people.

You know, that`s the way it is. It`s one of the many reasons our country is going to hell.


MADDOW: That was Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump today in Warren, Michigan.

Then, later today, he was in Cadillac, Michigan.



TRUMP: Get them out of here. Get them out. Get them out of here. Get them out.

Are these rallies the most fun of everybody, right? We have the most fun. We have the most fun.

Get him out of here. Get him out. Get him out. So disrupted.

Remember when Bernie Sanders, they took the mic away from him? That`s not going to happen with us, folks. That`s not going to happen.

Remember that? He walked away from the mic and he stood back and he watched two young girls talk into the audience. They said, we came to listen to him. He was standing in the back as two women took the mic away.

Now, that doesn`t happen to us.

Get that guy out of here. Get him out. Get that guy out of here. Get him out of here. Get him out.


I think you should arrest him. Do you like him? I think he should be arrested. Arrest him.

I think he should be arrested for what he just did, and for the fresh mouth he`s got. I would arrest him, officer. So, I don`t want to give any recommendation, officer. I would arrest him for a filthy, dirty mouth.


MADDOW: Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump at his rallies today this Michigan, ahead of the Michigan primary on Tuesday.

This has become a regular and increasingly performative part of his rallies. Get him. Get him. Get him, right?

And at this one today in Cadillac, Michigan, I don`t know if this is the first time he`s called for a protester at one of his events to be arrested, but what you see more commonly, increasingly is that Mr. Trump talks about violence against protesters. He sometimes flat out calls for violence against the protesters. More often, though, he just sort of encourages it without actively saying please do it.


TRUMP: All right. Get him out. Try not to hurt him. If you do, I`ll defend you in court. Don`t worry about it.


MADDOW: That was also today, him today speaking in Warren, Michigan.

So, violence at political events, violence taking place at the events, the threat of violence at those events, we don`t think of that as our American culture. We think of that as a feature of an earlier time in American politics. We think of it as something that happens in other countries not as advanced as ours.

If we do think about it as happening in our politics, we think of it as something that only occurs on the fringes of our politics, certainly not at events held by somebody running as a major party for candidate for president.


REPORTER: This is Wallace country but he ran into one of the worst and loudest protest demonstrations of his campaign so far.

GEORGE WALLACE: You`ve got some folks out here who know a lot of four letter words. But there are two four letter words they don`t know, w-o-r-k and s-o-a-p.

You`re a little punk, that`s all you are. Let`s talk about Vietnam in a moment. You haven`t got any guts. You got too much hair on your head, partner. You got a load your mind. That`s right. Cut the flood lights off.


MADDOW: George Wallace from the podium as protesters are pulled out of his rallies in 1968. George Wallace in 1968 ran in a segregationist campaign for president. In that campaign in 1968, he won five states in the Deep South.

Three of which, I should mention, Donald Trump has already won in the Republican primary this year and one more of which he`s expected to win tomorrow.

At the time that George Wallace was running this extremist, overtly racist campaign in 1968, a lot of people wondered if that campaign would start basically the American rise of European style fascist politics. And by that, I mean, not just the ideological content of what these political leaders were offering, which trying to sell people on, it was also the style by which they were conducting themselves as political figures.

And violence is a key part. Violence is seen as instrumental in those kinds of movements, right? Fascist leaders like Mussolini in Italy, Oswald Mosley in the U.K., one of the hallmarks of their political appeal, one of the ways they exerted their political effort was that they had a paramilitary cadre of thugs who accompanied them on their political rounds, right, and attack political rivals and beat up people at political rallies, who would make sure not just the threat of violence but actual violence was part of the appeal, part of the package in that kind of fascist, or pseudo- fascist political mobilization.

In the Donald Trump campaign in the United States in 2016, we have not seen yet any kind of paramilitary, pro-Trump, you know, anti-protester, uniform gang thing going on. We haven`t seen that emerge yet. But Trump campaign events are now so reliably violent that it is part of what people expect to see when they go see him in person. And they`re so reliably violent, I think we`re actually sort of starting to wink at the possibility that Donald Trump events may be self-policed fairly soon.

In Louisville, Kentucky, this week, what started off as disturbing, upsetting video of a young black woman being shoved and screamed at inside a Trump rally, that already disturbing footage took a darker turn and became even more chilling when a fairly famous neo-Nazi activist proudly bragged that, yes, he was one of the young white males screaming and shoving that black woman at that Trump rally as -- I should mention -- Donald Trump the candidate himself screamed from the podium, "get out".


TRUMP: Oh, get out of here. Get out of here.

Look at these people. Get out of here. Get out. Out. Out. Out. Get out!

Unbelievable. Unbelievable. Oh, well. Get out.


MADDOW: The shoving and the screaming from the guy in the red hat there, you see at the end, the guy with a thin beard, he`s the white nationalist who was bragging about being one of the white men who shoved that woman as Trump was screaming from the podium and egging they will on.

On his Twitter feed, he recently reposted a quote from somebody else who was warning that soon enough, the Donald Trump campaign would have its own brown shirts. And the guy who was shoving that young woman at a rally, this neo-Nazi activist, he retweeted that remark with the caption, quote, "God, I hope so."

Brown shirts, of course, were the paramilitary thugs that surrounded Adolf Hitler during his rise to power in Germany, right? Attacking competing political events, beating up protesters, serving as a military/thug police force to protect Nazi rallies, to protect Hitler himself. Quote, "God, I hope so."

So, in this political climate, the Donald Trump campaign right now is heading into David Duke`s home state of Louisiana. And, frankly, in this political climate, what`s happening there tonight feels like very heavy weather.

And we`ve got more on that in just a moment, including what did just happen. That`s next. Stay with us.


MADDOW: Ahead of tomorrow`s Louisiana primary, this was Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump`s event tonight at an airplane hangar in New Orleans.

It was a big crowd at this event, a rowdy and tense crowd. Also a lot of protesters.

Our campaign reporters on the ground tell us that a number of people at this event tonight were pushed and shoved by people in the crowd. A lot of signs ripped out of people`s hands and just ripped up. It was a lot of shouting as all kinds of folks were ejected from this rally one after the other.

Mr. Trump`s rallies are increasingly becoming like this.

This Trump crowd this New Orleans was estimated at 3,000 to 4,000 people. It gives you a sense of what the character was of that crowd.

Now, in terms of what`s going to happen tomorrow, in terms of this primary, I should tell you that crowd size means about as much as hand size when it comes to predicting political victories. The polls do say that Mr. Trump is expected to win tomorrow in Louisiana. Although in contrast, what it felt like heading into Super Tuesday this week, there is a little question mark hanging over his prospects for the contest this weekend.

Mr. Trump has faced criticism in the past during this campaign obviously, but he`s never really faced anything like the onslaught of criticism that he got this week. Is that going to make a difference in his numbers in the contest this weekend? We shall see.

I mean, if the last few days of criticism will take a toll, it`s fair warning that toll, if we see it hurt his numbers this week, you probably won`t see it in Louisiana tomorrow, because of one logistical fact about the Louisiana primary. And that is that 40,000 Republican votes were already cast in Louisiana before the whole Republican Party turned on Donald Trump. It started criticizing him this week.

Louisiana early voting started two weeks ago. It ended a week ago. Given the big lead that Mr. Trump had in the polls both in Louisiana and nationwide, as of two weeks ago, I think it`s fair to guess that he probably bank a big lead in Louisiana, just during voting. Again, early voting happened It happened before this tide of Republican criticism rose up against him over these last few days.

He would also have banked that early voting league before he last night bragged about the size of his little Donald at the start of last night`s R rated debate. Nobody knows whether that will help him or hurt him. Just as nobody knows whether or not the criticism against him will help him or hurt him.

In addition to Louisiana and that primary over this week, the Republicans will also have three caucuses in Kentucky, and Kansas and Maine. Now, in the Louisiana primary, the polling is heavily in Mr. Trump`s favor. In caucus states, polling is useless.

But I would tell you, there are three things to watch for this weekend at what is getting to be a critical stage in this race. Two of them are sort of normal. One of them is pretty disturbing.

The first thing to watch for is obviously, who wins and by how much. And that does seem painfully obvious, but it`s starting to become increasingly and specifically important, because if Mr. Trump keeps winning at the same pace he`s been keeping this time, if he keeps winning by the same margins he`s been winning by, he very possibly is on track to get the Republican presidential nomination cleanly, with no way that anybody else can take it from him even at the convention.

So, we`ll have a bit more on that later in the show tonight. But watch this weekend to see whether or not he wins, and if he does, watch to see what kind of margin he rolls up in terms of number of delegates he gets. That`s the first thing.

The second thing to watch is whether there`s going to be any effect of this criticism against him from within the Republican Party. That criticism is getting so much louder over the past few days. In the three states that are going to be voting this weekend by caucus in Kansas, Kentucky and Maine, and those caucuses this weekend, there isn`t any early voting.

So, even if he does win in those states, is his vote down compared to other similar states? Is he winning by smaller margins than he might have been expected to win? Overall, are the turnout numbers down on the Republican side? Any of those things could be signs that the criticism against Mr. Trump is taking a toll.

Are Republican voters going to stay home now that they have heard so much criticism against their front-runner? So, that`s the second thing to watch.

Finally, there`s the third thing to watch. I can`t believe I have to say this, but I mean it earnestly. The third thing to watch is the level of violence at Donald Trump political events, and specifically, violent incitement from him at his political events.

Does the violence continue to rise over this weekend and heading into next week`s contest? Does it level off? Does it decline? Does he try to distance himself from it?

It`s been a long time since we were forced to think about the electoral utility of violence in American politics, and racially inflected violence specifically. But now, we`re back to that. Now, one of the dynamics, one of the variables we have to watch here is whether this particular Republican presidential front-runner continues to turn up that dial and basically encourage violence in his crowds.

If he does that, if there continues to be violence at his events, if he continues to encourage it from the podium, is that something that drives up the intensity of his support or does that finally start to freak out Republican voters who might otherwise support him?

We are a country that actually does have pseudo fascist and violence racists, black shirts and brown shirts on the very far fringes of right wing American politics. We do have persistent skinheads and neo-Nazis and Klansman.

That persistent fringe variety of American monster, though, has never been attached to and attracted to a front running major party presidential campaign the way they are to Donald Trump. For the first time since I`ve been alive, we`re legitimately watching to see if the black shirts and brown shirts officially attach themselves to his campaign in some way.

Louisiana votes tomorrow. Mississippi votes next Tuesday. Hold on.

Watch this space.


MADDOW: Because it`s not like there`s anything else going on around here, we have a RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Special Report for you tonight. It is partly about politics. Honestly, it is partly about what politics is failing to do in our country and it is failing a specific group of people really badly.

We have done two special reports on this show in the past three months. This is third in that series. It`s tonight. That`s next.


MADDOW: OK. Are you ready?

This is a story that I think is worth sitting down for. If you`re watching me on DVR or podcast, just hit pause. Go grab something to drink. Put your feet up. Just watch this story. Go with me here.

All right. It starts some place pretty solemn actually. One of the most solemn, sacred responsibilities of governments is taking care of veterans. Part of our bargain with people who fight for this country is when they come home, we take responsibility for their care, including their long term care when they get older.

We do not leave them out to fend for themselves in their old age in this country. We do not abandon veterans in this country.

And keeping up our end of that bargain does work differently in different states, but it`s something that we have always done, it`s a commitment that we all share.

So, take for example, this veterans home. This veterans home was open not long after the Civil War. Since the 1800s, this facility in way or another has been a home for veterans who needed place to live as they got older.

Some veterans just needed a little extra care as they join the ranks of older senior citizens, some of them needed more intensive care whether it was for the physical frailties of age or the unforgiving grip of dementia. At any given time, 400 or 500 former soldiers and sailors and airmen and marines lived in that state home. For those veterans, that home was where they lived central to their lives.

But then a few years ago, that state got a new governor and the new governor found way he thought he could save $4 million a year from that veterans home -- $4 million savings. He figured out a way to get that out of how the state had been spending money to take care of those elderly veterans.

He decided he would get rid of the state workers who had been taking care of the elderly veterans and instead, he would outsource their jobs to a private company.

And as you might imagine, the workers were upset, so were the veterans who depended on the workers. A veteran of the Korean War who lived at that state home told the local press at the time, quote, "For the life of me, I can`t see them getting rid of caretakers they`ve got there now. They know each and every person that`s up there."

Another veteran, a Vietnam War vet, said the caretakers they had were, quote, "like family. They are the ones who see us first and tell the nurses and doctors something`s not quite right with Tony, something`s not quite right with Jack. They go to our funerals. They are not paid to do that. They bring us Christmas presents. The private company people aren`t going to do that."

It turns out that Vietnam vet knew what he was talking about and he ultimately sued to try to turn back this privatization scheme. And his case included stories that make you want to tear your hair out or at least donate to your favorite veterans group.

The case included stories of private workers dropping an elderly veteran while they were trying to lift him. They broke his neck. Private company workers insisting on feeding one elderly veteran solid food when his doctor said not to. They literally pulled the feeding tube out of his stomach.

So, the veterans sued to try to turn back the privatization. But the governor had his plan, and the court said the plan could go ahead. You want to know how that worked out? Yes.

The state auditor recently looked into how the governor`s plan was working out for all those elderly veterans to stay home. They found under the governor`s brilliant new plan, the veterans home was understaffed 81 percent of the time, 81 percent. They found the vets were not getting their medications properly. They found staff were failing to even check in on residents to make sure they hadn`t wandered off into the streets.

They found that when the veterans started complaining that they were being neglected or even abused, no one tracked those complaints or investigated them like they should have been. That`s what the state got when the new governor came in with his new ideas about how to run things, privatize stuff, it will be much cheaper, to work great. Forget the way you`ve been doing it since the 1800s. This will be great. Shut up veterans. This will be great.

And when it turned out to not work out great, obviously no fault of governor, just collect somebody else`s scalp, after the state auditor confirmed what veterans were warning about and suing about and screaming about, the governor did accept the resignation of the member of his cabinet who ran veterans issues for him. So, that`s one. That`s exhibit A.

All right. Take a breath. Settle in. Here is exhibit B. Same state, same new innovative governor.

This is state that has one city that`s bigger than every other population center in the state by a mile. It has one big world class city that`s four times larger than the next largest city in the state. As -- by population, it`s as big as the next five biggest cities in the state combined, right? They`ve got one big population center in the whole state.

You might think of it as the crown jewel of the state, and these are the public schools in that state`s largest city. Black mold spreading through buildings, dead rats in the hallways, in the classrooms and the gyms. Live rats, live mice everywhere. Mushrooms growing out of walls.

Ceilings caving in, floors buckled. Floors buckled. Not to mention the black of books and school supplies. That goes without saying. That`s the floor in the gym.

Few weeks ago, teachers began staging mass sick outs at the schools. Hundreds of teachers called in sick. Dozens of schools closed. And the teachers weren`t protesting the kind of things that teachers protest in normal parts of the country. They weren`t protesting for better pay package or something about their contract negotiations. I mean, they do have terrible pay and terrible contract conditions.

What these protesters were protesting about is this. What they were calling out sick and picketing day after day was the physical condition of the schools that their kids were expected to learn in. They figured, listen, if you want to do right by the kids, it was more important to take desperate measures to sound the alarm about the physical conditions of these buildings rather than keep those kids in the disgusting and dangerous school building for one more day.

The amazing thing about this state and its largest city in the condition of those schools is that school district is under the direct control of the governor. It`s not being run like a normal state, right? There isn`t a locally elected school board that`s running things and that`s responsible for the school like in normal places of the country and normal states.

Now, in this state, the governor took over these schools himself. Put his own person in unilateral control of these schools and under that leadership, with him having taken that responsibility, the schools are expected to be completely out of money by April of this year. Now, the school year does not end in April but the school year presumably will this year if the district, as it`s scheduled to do, runs out of money completely by then.

The governor is in charge of those schools. That governor put an emergency manager in charge of those schools to run it for him. That manager resigned from the job last month saying there was no reason for him to stay because he had finished his job ahead of schedule.

He wrote this letter to the governor. "Dear governor, if an emergency manager determines that the financial emergency that he or she was appointed to manage has been rectified, the emergency manager shall inform the governor It is from these premises that I am informing you of my intent to leave my position as emergency manager."

Everything`s fixed. Why stay a moment longer? I`m out of here.

The schools are at least partially inhabitable. They are out of money by April. But under this governor, call that problem solved.

Exhibit C, same state, same governor. In December, the FBI unsealed a five count indictment against an official in a new agency this governor created to cut through all that terrible government bureaucracy and run schools in a new efficient streamlined way, the governor`s way.

This federal corruption indictment alleged the official used the agency for bribery and money laundering, including a very lucrative kickback scheme that has resulted in three guilty pleas in federal court and what`s likely to be years in prison for all three felons. It`s exhibit C.

Here`s the new one. Exhibit D, same state, same governor. See why I told you to grab a pop and put your feet up for this one. This is astonishing. This is all the same state, this is all the same governor, and it`s all happening now.

Here is exhibit D. Remember that oil spill last year on the California coast, pipeline near Santa Barbara sprang a leak. Nobody noticed for a whole bunch of hours.

And that pipe, it turned to everybody`s surprise, that pipe did not have an automatic shut off or at least it didn`t have one that worked. And by the time they finally, manually shut it off, tens and tens of thousands of crude oil spilled out into an absolutely pristine ecologically sensitive beach.

The company that did that, they own pipelines all over the country, including pipelines under this river in the same state where our innovative governor has had so much on his hands recently. The company has a couple old century pipelines under that river dating back to 1918.

And last week, during a big snowstorm, local woman who lives nearby, she was stuck at home because of the snowstorm and she was Googling, noodling around online, and she stumbled upon this in the federal registry. It`s a request by that pipeline company for permission to start pumping crude oil through those century old pipes that run under that river.

The company has said -- the company says they had been given permission to do that, to use those pipes for that kind of purpose way back in the day. Way back when they built the pipeline in 1918. So, now, it`s 98 years down the road, and they are just checking. Do we still have that permission? We still good to use that pipe for crude oil?

What do you think local residents, you good with a 98-year-old pipe being started up as crude oil pipeline under your river? I mean, construction standards were great in 1918. I`m sure it will be fine. What could have happened since then?

Don`t think of it as old. Think of it as vintage. Think of it more like an antique pipeline.

The public had 30 days to comment on this rather amazing request concerning this antique pipeline under their river. That pipeline, I should tell you, it runs under the river just immediately upstream of the drinking water intake for the state`s largest city.

OK. Does anybody have any objections?

Well, here`s the thing about that -- apparently, nobody had any objections because nobody heard about the public comment period. Nobody noticed. By the time anybody noticed what this pipeline company was asking to do, the window for public comment had closed.

That request for public comment on that bonkers pipeline plan, it got a grand total of six comments, including two that were tests that had been withdrawn.

So, if the nice lady who happened to be Googling around in her house during that snowstorm had not seen the notice in the federal registry that day, quite possibly, nobody would have seen this at all.

And that is a federal issue, right? That`s a federal public comment period. Pipelines are something that are regulated by the federal government.

But you know what? If there was a federal review going on of the prospect of running crude oil through a 100-year-old pipe directly upstream from the drinking water intake for your state`s largest city, don`t you think somebody in the state might have noticed that, other than that nice lady stuck at home because of the snowstorm noodling around just happen to be Googling and noticed it in the federal register?

Yes, it`s a federal review but nobody at the state said anything or did anything or sent up flag or told anybody it was happening. We don`t know if they noticed. The public comment period came and went for that absolutely critical and super freaking scary issue and the state never apparently even noticed. Or if they did, they never said anything.

But you know what? They have been busy because this state, obviously, is Michigan. And the governor of this state is Rick Snyder and he`s busy right now with the consequences of having lead poisoned the population of Michigan`s seventh largest city through another one of his innovation ideas. And while they`re working on that, you know, who else knows what has gone by the wayside?

There are presidential primaries and caucuses in a few states this weekend. All the campaigns are honkering down in Michigan because Michigan is the next big one. And they`re going to award a big chunk of presidential delegates in four days on Tuesday.

And, God bless, Michigan. Let`s hope the pandering they are getting for this fortuitous place they find themselves in the presidential nominating calendar this year, let`s hope that pandering does them some good, because what`s as obvious as the broadside of a barn right now in our country is that Michigan is a governance disaster, like no other state in the country right now, in a state that ought to be thriving.

Think of it, right? With its federally bailed out and revived auto industry, the envy of the world, the biggest and best automakers in the world, you think that Michigan would be kind of cruising right now, right?

Instead, Michigan is reeling under government-caused disaster after government-caused disaster. It`s not like Michigan keeps stumbling into accidents. These are self-inflicted by the state government.

I know our political debates in this country have to be about something. One day, we will wake up and find out they are about this and how to stop it and who should pay.


MADDOW: We`re talking about this great big story of Michigan, there`s one good piece of news that I want to show you from Flint. Flint, Michigan, today got going finally on starting to remove the city`s ruined water pipes. It has started. It has started. It has started.

The mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver, said she`s not sure where the money is going to come from to keep this project going. The legislature said this week, they don`t think they will get around to sending my money to Flint for this for months yet, maybe October.

But little Flint had cobbled together enough money to start. And today, they started getting rid of their ruined pipes. Job one, pipe one started today, several thousands more to go.

We`ll be right back.



STATE REP. TIM GREIMEL (D-MI), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Good morning. Today, because it`s in the best interest of the residents of Michigan, I`m calling on Governor Rick Snyder to resign for his actions and inactions pertaining to the Flint water crisis.


MADDOW: As presidential campaigns flood into Michigan right now for that state`s big primary on Tuesday, if you pick up a local paper in Michigan these days, you`re likely to see a headline like this, "Don`t ask what Governor Snyder knew, ask why he didn`t." That comes from Rochelle Riley of "The Detroit Free Press".

Joining us is Rochelle Riley of "The Detroit Free Press". Ms. Riley, it`s really nice to see you. Thanks for being with us tonight.


MADDOW: Is Michigan in a different position than other states right now? I mean, from the outside, you can tell. I`m sort of agog at how many government-caused disasters the state is handling at the same time right now.

RILEY: This is an unusual position for any state to be in. But it`s a sad position for Michigan, which has just had its largest city go through the largest municipal bankruptcy in history and should have something that Governor Snyder could have, you know, touted as a great victory. But nobody can remember anything that has happened because of all the bad things that are happening now. It`s like death by a thousand cuts.

MADDOW: I know you`re getting a lot of attention now from presidential campaigns because of Tuesday`s primary and how unexpectedly important it is, particularly on the Republican side.

Do you feel like any of the national attention helps? Do you feel like any of the candidates get what`s going on in Michigan right now?

RILEY: I can tell you that when I talk to people in Flint, they are thrilled for any attention, because they yelled loud and long for almost eighteen months before they got the kind of attention they`re getting now. So, they`re thrilled that they`re now getting presidential candidates. There`s going to be the debate, the Democratic debate in Flint.

And quite frankly, they welcome it. They want people to hear them. They want people to see what they have been seeing and dealing with for sometime, while you had an administration that quite frankly dismissed them, arrogantly and aggressively so.

MADDOW: I`m going to ask you if you think that Governor Snyder is going to resign with the caveat that he keeps saying he`s not going to, and I know he keeps saying that he is not going to.

But I have to wonder if all of these things piling up with Flint getting worse and worse and worse, not only in the sense that it`s not getting fixed, but the more we learn about it the worse it seems for him.

With all of these things piling up, is it possible for him to stay in office for that much longer?

RILEY: Well, there are three things that are true, Governor Snyder is either severely sinister or heartbreakingly naive or just really is out of touch with what is going on and I don`t think he`s going to resign. I think it`s the kind of thing where he really thinks that this is his problem, that it was caused on his watch and he`s going to stay and try to fix it.

But as the tensions mount and the calls for his resignation mount, I don`t know how much he can get done. I know there are only two things he has to get done -- one is to get the money to the Detroit public schools so we don`t lose a public school system in the state`s largest city, and the other is to get the situation in Flint fixed. And if he does nothing but that, he`ll probably be able to stay in office to do that.

MADDOW: Rochelle Riley, columnist with "The Detroit Free Press", really enjoyed talking to you throughout our coverage of this story and thanks for being with us, Rochelle. It`s great to see you.

RILEY: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: I should tell you that when people go out to vote in the presidential primary in Michigan on Tuesday, there will be people signing up volunteers to collect signatures to recall Governor Snyder. The recall signature petition gathering thing will actually start on Easter Sunday in Michigan churches.

Stay with us.


MADDOW: Big day of politics, big day of TV tomorrow. Four caucuses and a primary. Maine, Nebraska, Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana and what is beginning to feel like a key weekend for the nomination, believe it or not.

Here on MSNBC, we`re going to be starting our coverage of the caucuses and primary results at 4:00 Eastern tomorrow. This is the part where the anchor says something to get to you watch like, you never know what will happen, and we usually don`t mean it, but like seriously, this year, duh, yes, for real, you should watch. See you then.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You need a haircut, Bernie.

Get you trimmed.



SANDERS: Let`s do it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bernie, what`s your style?

SANDERS: You know my style.


MADDOW: I have to say, it takes some chutzpah to say to a presidential candidate, hey, you need a haircut, let`s get you trimmed. It also takes some chutzpah on the part of the candidate to be like, yes, person I never met before I`m running for president it`s a pretty key moment for me right now, go ahead have at me with scissors. But that was Senator Bernie Sanders getting a $7 haircut at the downtown barbershop in the great state of Kansas today where this happens to be a big caucus this weekend.

Kansas will be a caucus for the Democrats this weekend. Democrats also have contests in Louisiana, Nebraska. Those will be on Saturday. Maine, Democrats will caucus on Sunday.

So, again, it`s caucuses in Kansas, Nebraska and Maine. Louisiana is the only primary.

In Louisiana, Hillary Clinton is up in the polls. She`s pretty heavily favored to win that state. That makes sense both in terms of the demographics of the Democratic electorate in Louisiana. It also makes sense because Bernie Sanders basically isn`t really contesting Louisiana. So, she`s expected to win there.

In Kansas, that`s a caucus, so there`s basically been no public polling except for one poll which showed Secretary Clinton up by ten. You can take that with a grain of salt. It`s really hard to poll caucus states.

In the great state of Nebraska, there`s literally no polling, but it`s also a caucus state. Senator Sanders has been faring well in those kind of states.

Maine will be holding its caucus on Sunday, another one where we`ve got no polling. The Sanders campaign says they`ve got a chance to win all of the caucus states and Louisiana, where Hillary Clinton is up by a lot, and it`s not a caucus, it`s primary. The Clinton campaign is conceding that Senator Sanders could win Nebraska and Kansas, but they`re maintaining that they will win Louisiana with a large margin and emerge with more delegates at the end of the weekend.

As more Maine, nobody really knows. But those are the best predictions we can make right now. That`s the best expectations the campaigns can set on primary caucus eve. Watch this space.

That does it for us tonight. Now it`s time, not for prison, but for "HARDBALL". Hey.